Pair of Vases
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Chinese porcelain, mid-1700s; French mounts, Paris, about 1775
Hard-paste porcelain and gilt bronze mounts


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Birds perch atop stalks of bamboo amid flowering prunus branches on these baluster-shaped vases, painted in China in underglaze blue, copper-red, and white on a celadon ground. These vases were designed as purely decorative objects, rather than primarily as containers for flowers. That Chinese porcelain was still being mounted around 1775 indicates its enduring popularity among Europeans. In the 1700s, French taste gradually moved away from blue-and-white porcelains to polychrome pieces.

The gilt mounts include a rim, a foot, and infant satyrs holding the ends of two-piece laurel swags, secured to the vases at a false knot with an iron screw through the body of the vase. The heaviness of the gilt bronze mounts indicates that they were made relatively early during the Neoclassical period. The general forms and decorative elements on the mounts are similar to those on other mounted porcelains and mounted hardstones, presumably all made by a single unknown bronzier. Most stand on stemmed pedestals, have swags on their upper bodies, and include infant figures from mythology. Though the vocabulary of decorative motifs spans the various objects, the mounts themselves are rarely duplicated. These are the only known examples with infant satyrs.